Satya (1998)


UK/US Eros edition DVD

The Scriptwriter, the future genius director/scriptwriter Anurag Kashyap

Text below written 2016-03-19


First: Chakravarthy is brilliant in his portrayal of the criminal Satya in THE indian Gangster Saga, a masterpiece
within the genre, and i re-watched this masterpiece some 15 years after it was released.

Ram Gopal Varma, Ramu, did manage to follow up this epic gangster film with the almost as good Company 4 years
later, but only almost and not as powerful as this gritty film. In the latter film Ramu definitely found his style of expression,
somewhat pompous with many fast cuts and a bombastic thunderous soundtrack with staccato choir voices.
And it worked pretty well .... then .... and RGV became the hope for the renewal of the Bollywood film, but when
writing this more than a decade later i think (that's my thoughts and maybe not others) that he got so stuck with this style
of his as being almost parody. Even though his style is very recognizeable.

But, no such excesses yet in Satya where he's using his stylistic means in a masterful stringent way, and all of the actors
are performing in a natural believable Non-Masala way. Especially this J.D. Chakravarthy who's nothing less than GREAT
in the role with a toned down performance but still with energy vibrating below the surface, a country guy that won't take
any insults or disrespect from no-one. Also Manoj Bajpai is very good in his more eccentric style and also Urmila Matondkar
is good in her part. J.D. Chakravarthy was born 1965 in Hyderabad and started in the Telugu film industry and became a
protégé of Ramu and can often be seen in his productions (as i.a. in the trashy ghost story Vaastu Shastra).

The Story:

Satya (Chakravarthy) arrives to the Human Pot of Mumbai and he survives with an array of small jobs here and there, but
lands in jail after some minor offence. In jail he meets and become friend with the gangster Bheeku Matre (Bajpai) who
takes him on as an underling in his Gang, led by the big boss and politician Bhau (Govind Namdev). Naturally, in Bollywood
all polticians are gangster bosses in Sheep's Clothing (and most police corrupted sadists).
Soon Satya gains respect for his fearlessness and he advances fast within the hierarchy, meets and falls in love with a girl,
the aspiring singer Vidya (Matondkar). A Cop is played by the always great but underrated actor Aditya Srivastava.

Satya is a very, VERY GOOD indian version of Brian De Palma's genre defining masterpiece Scarface and in it's way it
became a genre defining film in Bollywood for the future gangster films.
Unfortunately, Ram Gopal Varma never reached this heights again - with the exception of the criminally underrated Not a
Love Story from 2011 and also, but to the lesser extent, Rakht Charitra from 2010. He has got stuck in his own ruts and
churns out the one hastily made piece of trash after the other, something of an indian version of the Hong Kong/Thailand
brothers Pang maybe, who started out sensationally with Bangkok Dangerous and The Eye.

I Love Bollywood Crime, it's a genre that this film industry does very well and then also in an international comparison, and
Satya are one of my favourites along with Maqbool, Gulaal and Gangs of Wasseypur, Badlapur and his own Company.
The edition of this film on an old poor Eros DVD edition starts in widescreen just to be cut to LB faulty aspect ratio and
often people at the corners are cut into half. Luckily nowadays indian DVD's are presented in better aspect ratio and
often in anamorphic widescreen. The audio is in 5.1 hindi with english subs but the song/dance numbers are without subs